December 3, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vineyard keeper . . . I am the vine; you are the branches.”—John 15:1–5 (HCSB, emphasis added)
Have you ever given flowers to a loved one? Maybe you’ve been the recipient of a lovely bouquet. They’re bright, vibrant, fragrant, and delicate examples of God’s creativity and beauty. We use them at weddings and funerals. We give them to one another on anniversaries, birthdays, and Valentine’s Day—and sometimes on a random day just so we can make someone feel special. We use them to say, “I’m sorry,” “Congratulations,” or “I love you.” They adorn vases, lapels, and even gravestones. It’s safe to say flowers are firmly planted into the fabric of life, in more ways than one.
The interesting thing about flowers is that, in most cases, in order to give flowers, we must first cut them off from their source—which leads to their death. If you’ve ever had flowers on your desk or in your home, you know that no matter what you do, the petals will wither, turn black, and fall off. Why? Because they’re no longer connected to their source—the vine. They can’t bloom or blossom apart from their vine, and the same is true of us!
In John 15:1 (HCSB), during what is commonly referred to as the last supper, Jesus says to His disciples, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vineyard keeper.” Now, when Jesus uses the word “true” here, it’s not in comparison to any other falsehood. Instead, true (alēthinē) alludes to the real, perfect ideal. It’s the only one, the genuine article, complete with a certificate of authenticity as opposed to everything else. True emphasizes the organic connection (authentic unity) between what is true and its source or origin. And in this case, what makes Jesus the true vine is His connection to the vineyard keeper, God the Father.
As He continues, Jesus tells His disciples, “Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me” (John 15:4–5 HCSB). What a sobering and powerful reminder of our helplessness and hopelessness apart from Christ, our Savior and Redeemer! When we remain connected to Him, the Father prunes and perfects us (sanctification) and produces fruit in our lives. He is able to do great things in and through us—exceedingly, abundantly great things beyond what we could ever ask, think, or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
So, the question is then . . . how do we stay connected to the Vine? How do we abide, dwell, live, and make our home with Christ? Through relationship! We have to spend time with Jesus. You have to base and build your life around a relationship with Christ, the living Word, and devote yourself to the revealed Word of Scripture.
And as you abide more and more in Jesus by spending time with Him, the more intimately you will know Him; and the more intimately you know Him, the more you will become like Him by the power of the Holy Spirit that is in you, who then works through you to produce the good fruit Jesus promises.
Pause: What does abiding in Jesus mean to you?
Practice: Read John 15:1–8.
Practice: My Lord Jesus, I thank You for being the Vine. I thank You for abiding with me and in me. I pray I would never lose sight of You and be intentional to remain connected to You! Amen.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.